25 June 2018

Designing Women - Joplin Regional Business Journal

"Interior Designers with CGA are changing ideas about architecture around Joplin"

By Savanah Mandeville

Kate DeTar and Ashley Snyder are changing the way Joplin looks...literally.

As interior designers for Joplin-based Corner Greer & Associates Architects, they're in a unique position to change the interior facades of many of Joplin's buildings. So far, the work they've been doing has been making waves throughout the industry, too. "We've heard a ton of, 'this doesn't feel like Joplin when you walk in; it feels like you're in a completely different place,'" said Snyder, associate interior designer with Corner Greer.

She's referring specifically to the atmosphere at Joplin's newest downtown attraction, Infuxn Boaka Bar (Russian for Infusion Vodka Bar). Snyder assisted DeTar, Corner Greer's head interior designer, with the implementation of the sleek, futuristic appearance of the bar that one would expect to find in cities much larger than Joplin. Many people, though, might not realize the influence that architecture firms have on interiors as well as exteriors.

"It's fairly common for architecture firms to have an in-house interior design department," DeTar. "Maybe not so much in Joplin, but nationally, yes, it is common."

The word 'architecture' might bring to mind exterior building styles - Victorian, Art Deco, Contemporary, Spanish - or even images of blue prints and drafting tables, but there is an entirely separate school of thought and processes when it comes to interior design - and the industry is growing.

"We're actually seeing firms hiring designers more and more as the economy is bouncing back. I also think there are a lot more students out there getting their degrees and pushing for an examination, so it's going to be a pretty competitive industry pretty soon - or rather, once again," DeTar said.

Snyder is of those emerging designers. She has been employed with Corner Greer since October 2014 and is in the process of completing her bachelor's degree in Interior Design with a minor in Construction from Pittsburg State University. She graduates this May.

As a new face in the industry, Snyder is bringing skills to Corner Greer that reflect a changing industry.

"Architecture and design has become so much more than just picking a color and a carpet," DeTar said. "It's really about branding the client's environment and helping them establish what their identity is."

For Infuxn Boaka Bar, for example, the designers were tasked with not only creating a modern space with Russian influences, but also with creating ways to draw customers in from the street and further into the space with attractive visual elements. They accomplished this through furniture layout, by installing a floor-to-ceiling bottle display toward the back of the space, as well as by using light fixture in the hallway leading to the bathrooms that cast star-like dots of light across the walls.

In order to design complex spaces like these, DeTar and Snyder's process involves a lot of research, brainstorming, planning and meetings with business owners. With the vodka bar, the designers asked the owners to toss out some words related to what they wanted people to feel when they walked in. responses included: Clean, inviting, sophisticated and comfortable.

"We kind of had all these words that seemed really in contrast to each other, so we definitely had our work cut out for us." DeTar said. "From there, we went to the drawing board thinking about 'What is Russia? What is vodka?'

"We basically got a bunch of images from really hot bars, and a lot of random ideas, too - Russian dolls, for example - just to figure out what appealed to them," DeTar said. "The end result kind of became this kind of ice cave with the northern lights concept."

The team discovered that process of infusing vodka has 16 steps, so they included 16 hanging light fixtures. They also needed a way to transition the space from day to night, so they installed soft neon lighting for after dark - a nod to the northern lights.

Snyder said she currently does a lot of business marketing for Corner Greer, including social media management, proposals, branding and signage. Plans for the future include helping clients develop their brand or their "story" along with interior design in a similar way. Snyder said she does a lot of logo design and corporate branding through her side business, Ashley Lauren Design Studio, and she said doing similar work for CGA clients along with interior design would be ideal.

"The industry has become more than just interiors, it's more of a multimedia strategy, or an experience," Snyder said. "It includes anything you can do to draw the customers in or the clients in and keep them there is part of our work."


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